Vail may be known for its world-class skiing, but there are great activities and events all year long. Locals love springtime for its reduced crowds, lower prices, and a unique opportunity to experience the entire Vail Valley. Here is a list of our favorite spring activities in Vail.
Vail offers whitewater rafting opportunities for all experience levels. Class I to Class V river trips are available on the Eagle, Colorado, and Arkansas rivers throughout the Vail Valley. Because these rivers are largely, or entirely, fed by snowmelt, conditions can vary greatly. Whitewater rafting season typically starts for Lower Eagle River and Dowd Chute Upper Eagle River in May. Call ahead about conditions and be aware of class levels.
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens
Known as the highest botanical garden, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens sits at 8,200 feet and is open year-round. The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens features the Alpine Display Gardens, Mountain Perennial Garden, Mountain Meditation Garden, 120-foot waterfall, Children’s Garden and Schoolhouse Garden, and Alpine Rock Garden. The gardens display about 2,000 plant varieties, including roughly 500 wildflower and alpine plant species.
Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum
Any local ski or snowboarding enthusiast must get to know the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame. The museum includes six gallery themes with stories, films, and artifacts of snow sports history. Learn about the 10th Mountain Division, the history of Colorado ski resorts, ski fashion, and more. There is a $5 suggested donation for museum entry. The museum is located on the third level of the Vail Village parking structure. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Vail Village and Lionshead are the two biggest shopping hubs in the Vail Valley, with dozens of shops selling ski gear, jewelry, Western attire, boutique clothing, art, and more. Meander down the cobblestone streets and you’ll find shopping at every corner. The Golden Bear, Gorsuch, Cos Bar, Kemo Sabe, Lionshead Jewelers, and the Boot Lab are among local favorite shops.
Hiking, like whitewater rafting, is largely impacted by the winter snowfall and spring temperature changes. April and May hikes are mostly accessible on south-facing slopes, but still be prepared to run into muddy spots. Spring offers sprawling views of white-capped mountains, mild temperatures, and fewer crowds. A good option is Booth Falls in East Vail, which is a moderate hike up to a beautiful 60-foot waterfall. Most trails officially open April 15.
Spring Back to Vail
Spring Back to Vail is the premier end-of-season event. The celebration is a perfect opportunity for one last run on the mountain while temperatures are mild. The weekend is packed with special après parties, giveaways, live music, and a sponsor EXPO village. Taking place from April 12 to 14, Spring Back to Vail 2019 concludes with the 17th Annual World Pond Skimming Championships.